Hide and Seek is a No-No!

    February 5, 2004

A lot of times, browsing a website is sort of like playing hide and seek.

Visitors know the information they need is probably available somewhere on the site, but it’s lurking underneath several layers of pages. They are required to go find it.

These websites have the attitude that it is enough to merely provide good information or products. However, they don’t worry about compelling visitors to go in a specific direction or take a specific action.

There may be lots of good information or services available on the site, but visitors are left to take the initiative and pursue it themselves.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Presumably, if you have a website, you are attempting to get your visitors to do something. Usually, this means you want them to buy your products or services. Considering that you want your visitors to take action, it’s your responsibility to motivate them.

Be proactive and give direction. If you want your visitors to do something, tell them! Don’t expect your visitors to pursue you–you need to pursue them.

You must reach out to your audience, draw them into your site, and guide them through each step until they take the particular action you want them to take.

Here are a few tips on how to do that:

1. Put a link at the bottom of each page.

When a visitor gets to the bottom of a page, he or she has come to a stopping point. In other words, he or she needs direction for where to go next. This is a perfect place to put a link guiding him to the next step.

2. Don’t give too many choices.

If you simply give a list of choices, you are taking a passive approach. Don’t leave the visitor to find his own way. It’s your job to compel him to take action.

Of course, you can’t try to dictate the visitor’s environment completely. Some choices are necessary, so you have to find a balance. Rather than be a dictator, you should recognize the visitor’s freedom, but suggest a specific course.

Practically, this means you should limit the navigation options on your pages. Don’t overwhelm the visitor with a page full of choices. Keep things simple enough that there is a clear course of action.

3. Narrow your primary goal.

The more broad your primary goal is, the more difficult it will be to provide direction to your visitors. The more narrow your focus, the more compelling you can be.

4. Don’t assume that visitors know what to do on your site.

Too many sites expect too much of the visitor. Remember, your visitors won’t usually know that much about your company or your site.

You must think from the perspective that they know nothing about you or your services. Make no assumptions.

5. Give clear direction on your main page.

Many main pages are either completely passive, with only long paragraphs of boring copy, or they offer a confusing conglomeration of choices. Remember, the home page is most likely your visitors’ first impression of your site, and they need help evaluating it.

Make sure your primary goal stands out. Hide and seek is over!

Does your site have the essential ingredients that make customers buy? Jamie Kiley can help you find out exactly how your site needs to be improved. Sign up for a site review today at http://www.kianta.com.

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